Tomato Season 2012 Update

aug2012tomatoes1aug2012tomatoes2tomatoes3

We hit the Derby Street 63rd and Adeline market yesterday to check in with some of our favorite tomato farmers and find out how the season is progressing.

Last time we’d checked in things were off to a slower and cooler start than expected which led to our decision to reschedule this year’s Tomato Dinners for mid-September. This time around we found an eye-popping barrage of technicolored specimens representing a wide range of varieties which are all ripening right now. Additionally we were told again and again, this is just the beginning!

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith from Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley said they planted six waves of tomatoes and currently the second one is just winding down and the third wave hasn’t even started yet! Daytime temperatures are averaging around 100 degrees and the tomatoes are loooooving it. Anna from Catalan Family Farm in Hollister said they are “SWIMMING in tomatoes” and barring an early frost, will probably have tomatoes until October possibly mid-November! Tim from Riverdog Farm said although their season was initially behind schedule, due to a late first planting and then an early heatwave in June that knocked some buds off, the tomatoes are now in full roar. And Karen from Lucero Organic Farm in Lodi, which has a daunting variety of tomatoes on display, said the smaller earlier varieties started picking up speed a few weeks ago but now everything is in full swing.

lucerosignage

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices? Come nerd out with us on September 16th when Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will be leading a tomato tasting in preparation for this year’s Tomato Dinners. This is a chance to taste a wide variety of tomatoes from a number of local farmers and hear a chef’s opinion on how they would be best put to use.

Signs of Summer

DirtyGirl2011

Today marks the first day of Summer 2011 and many signs of the season were on display at the Derby Street Market: fragrant basil, cherry tomatoes from Full Belly, summer squash and those knockout long stem Seascape strawberries from Lucero, and piles of “ripe shamefaced peaches” (had to get in a belated Bloomsday reference) at Blossom Bluff.

But one of the definitive signs that it is truly summer at the Derby Street market is the appearance of our friends from Dirty Girl Produce. And there they were! Right next to a freakin’ harp player!

Seems that Santa Cruz was not as waylaid by rain as it was last year, so most of Dirty Girl’s crops were planted on schedule. Their romanesco was looking particularly lovely today, as well as some smaller bunched broccoli. Coming up: beans. Lots and lots of beans (haricots vert, romano, cannellini, among others) should be arriving from Dirty Girl Produce within the next few weeks. And the official statement on dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes? ETA: 4-5 weeks.

Market Report #5: Lucero Seascape Strawberries

Lucero_strawberries_2011

They’ve arrived.

Yesterday, we saw the first wave of the Lucero Organic Farm’s amaaazing long stem Seascape strawberries at the Derby St. market in Berkeley. Karen Lucero showed up at 2 p.m. when the market opened, and was sold out within three hours.

Ben Lucero has been growing this same variety of strawberry for years, even after he moved his farm inland from the coast to Lodi. Ben believes that great strawberries are the product of close attention and judicious watering, not a certain variety, location, or climate. As a result, Lucero strawberries are a concentration of bright, vibrant flavor. And a favorite of the Oliveto kitchen.

Fortunately, we were able to snap up a few flats & Chef Jonah has them on the menu already:

Crudo of fluke with basil, strawberry, and almonds; lemon agrumato

Market Report #9: Lucero Strawberries

We visited Derby Street Farmers’ Market in Berkeley this Tuesday and talked strawberries. Ripe strawberries. Not in Kansas City or New York. Super ripe, Seascape strawberries from Lucero Organic Farms, right here in California. Hold the gas.

Market Report #6: What to Buy This Week!

We visited the Berkeley Farmers’ Market last Saturday with Bill Fujimoto and got a look at what’s in season right this minute and what will be even-more-in-season by the end of this week. We also got an insider’s tip on a savvy way to save some money during this time of year.

Tomato Watch Week 18 (Part 2): In which we also consider the eggplant

Chef Paul Canales hit up the Derby Street Farmers’ Market yesterday with daughter Eva in tow. The duo got a look at some of the recently available tomatoes at Riverdog Farm, Catalan Farms, Lucero Organic Farm, and Full Belly Farm. Tomato season should hit its peak in the next few weeks, giving the chefs time to evaluate what’s up to snuff for this year’s tomato dinners.

In the meantime, the current showstopper is eggplant. Chef Canales shows us the three varieties he’s particularly fond of and explains how he likes to use them. Eggplant will be on the Oliveto menu in a variety of dishes over the next few days including:

Conchiglie with Rosa Bianca egglpant and pancetta

Stuffed chard and fried ricotta polpettini with wood-oven-roasted eggplant purée

Canales & Fujimoto Walk The Market

Yesterday’s solstice officially marked the beginning of summer, but already the markets are bursting with incredible produce. New things keep showing up every week; out of this world strawberries, followed by cherries and the rest of the stone fruits, summer squashes, pole beans, and right around the corner the first of the figs.

Last Tuesday, Chef Paul Canales and Bill Fujimoto met up at the Derby Street Farmers’ Market in Berkeley to get a taste of what’s great right now, and also to show us what to look for as the summer progresses.

video shot and edited by Ben Schwartz

Lucero Strawberries Have Hit Their Peak

Among other things, Lucero Organic Farm is known for their long stem Seascape strawberries. Ben Lucero has been growing this same variety of strawberry for years, even after he moved his farm inland from the coast to Lodi. Ben believes that great strawberries are the product of close attention and judicious watering, not a certain variety, location, or climate. As a result, Lucero strawberries are a concentration of bright, vibrant flavor.

In the last week the Luceros’ strawberries have reached their peak, marking the official beginning of berry season and what looks to be a very sweet summer.

June 4th, 2009|Farmers, Lucero Organic Farm|0 Comments

Tomato Watch Week 4 – Lucero Update

ben-smallerLast week, the Luceros were busy getting their tomato seedlings out of the greenhouse and into the ground. It was perfect timing apparently, as temperatures this week have surged. Ben Lucero wrote us this quick update yesterday letting us know what’s going on in Lodi and what to expect over the next few months:

“The temperature outside surpassed 90 degrees today. Tomatoes love the heat. The plants are doing well.

Typically, we harvest our first tomatoes sometime in June and maybe we might see some cherry types or smaller varieties as early as late May. Bye for now.”

Ben’s son Curtis sent us the following photos:

April 20th, 2009|Farmers, Lucero Organic Farm|0 Comments

Tomato Watch Week 3

First wave of plantings at Lucero Farm, Full Belly Farm and Riverdog Farm.
tomato_watch_w3_threenewvideos

Watch the videos

We’re at the beginning of planting season for Bay Area farms.
As asparagus and artichokes abound, Lucero, Full Belly and Riverdog Farms are also dodging spring frosts and making their plans for restricted water use.


Judith Redmond at Full Belly Farm says they will have several waves of tomato plantings.


At the beginning of April, about half of this year’s tomato crop at Lucero Farm in Lodi CA, is in the ground.

Trini Campbell and Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm, April 8th in the Capay Valley, Yolo County, California.